Over the years, we’ve heard plenty of talk about whether the NFL would consider shortening the preseason in favor of extending the regular season to 18 games. Today, some more traction was made on that, as according to the Wall Street Journal, the NFL has proposed an 18-game regular season schedule, but capping the number of games per player to 16 games.
Personally, I’m more than happy with sticking with the 16-game format, but let’s play devil’s advocate. On the surface, it is a bit intriguing because it gives teams more incentive to acquire depth, especially at the quarterback position. One could argue that the preseason becomes more important too, because you are preparing your backups to legitimately start games at some point during the season. There would be a whole new level of strategy for coaches to implement related to personnel. Do you start your backup quarterback at the beginning of the year? End of the year? Middle? Do you start him with the starters, or throw all the backups in for that day?
Some fans will revolt against an 18/16 approach. For example, this year the Browns play at Arizona in Week 15; it’s Cleveland’s once-per-eight-years trip to the desert. Browns fans in Phoenix who want (and who paid) to see Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, and Jarvis Landry play would be upset if they found out 90 minutes before kickoff that one or more of them is healthy, but not playing.
Whether you’re an Arizona fan or a Cleveland fan who flew out to Arizona to see the game, wouldn’t you be pretty pissed to find out that Baker Mayfield was a healthy scratch? The whole 18/16 scenario seems like a way for the NFL to try to get around having to pay players for two extra games, while citing safety reasons for why players’ workloads shouldn’t increase by two games.
If I had to vote on the idea, I think it deserves some thought, but I would need a lot more convincing before to ever say “yes.” What do you think, Browns fans? Would you be intrigued by an 18-game season, if players could only play a max of 16 games?